Although the notion of an essentially contested concept may shed light on the logic of disputes over the proper application of some key political terms, it nevertheless plays no genuine role in explaining the intractability of these disputes. The notion of an essentially contested concept is defended against some influential criticisms, showing how it is possible for one conception of an essentially contested concept to be justifiably regarded as superior to other competing conceptions. Two possible answers are distinguished to the question of why disputes over essentially contested concepts should be regarded as inevitable, but neither provides us with a plausible explanation for why they are so intractable. Disagreements over the proper use of key political concepts are better explained by features of moral and political discourse, such as the short reach of ?intellectual authority? and the fact that consensus is not one of its primary aims, in conjunction with empirical hypotheses from the social sciences, rather than by essential contestedness theses
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00201749008602212
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 72,541
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
IX.—Essentially Contested Concepts.W. B. Gallie - 1956 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 56 (1):167-198.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Essential Contestability and Evaluation.Pekka Väyrynen - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (3):471-488.
Feyerabend, Rorty, Mouffe and Keane: On Realising Democracy.Thomas Clarke - 1999 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 2 (3):81-118.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Terms of Political Discourse.William E. Connolly - 1983 - Princeton University Press.
Law is Not (Best Considered) an Essentially Contested Concept.Kenneth M. Ehrenberg - 2011 - International Journal of Law in Context 7:209-232.
Explaining Political Disagreement.Andrew Mason - 1993 - Cambridge University Press.
Art as an Essentially Contested Concept.W. B. Gallie - 1956 - Philosophical Quarterly 6 (23):97-114.
Medicine as an Essentially Contested Concept.C. McKnight - 2003 - Journal of Medical Ethics 29 (4):261-262.
Stakeholder: Essentially Contested or Just Confused? [REVIEW]Samantha Miles - 2012 - Journal of Business Ethics 108 (3):285-298.


Added to PP index

Total views
75 ( #157,148 of 2,533,473 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #391,480 of 2,533,473 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes